Fitness Success: The truth about motivation

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNEJuly 30, 2013 

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Fitness Success: The truth about motivation

I've got some great news about motivation for you. This is a big deal since one of the biggest obstacles that people complain about when it comes to eating better and working out regularly is a lack of motivation. Here's the good news about motivation: You don't need it. Not now, not in the future, not ever.

Motivation is a feeling, and this is the problem with motivation. Feelings come and go, you just can't count on them. They're not consistent. Motivation can help you get started with something, but it is discipline that will keep you going over the long haul. Be disciplined not motivated.

TIPS TO BE MORE DISCIPLINED

The good news about discipline is that it's not like height - it's something you can actually change and increase, and here are four ways to get started.

1. Make your bed. It's not just a cliche, but every discipline enhances every other discipline. This is a research validated fact. People who improve their eating habits also find that, without intending to, they also do a better job of managing their money. Making your bed seems to be what researchers call a "keystone" habit that spills over positively to most other areas of a person's life.

2. Chose your battles. Discipline (or willpower) is a finite quality. Sure you can develop it, but it is still finite. Research shows that you can effectively change about three things about yourself at a time. I always like to tell people to limit this to a maximum of two since you probably have other things going on in your life. Pick the two things that you can do right now, and focus on them. Don't let yourself off the hook on these two things, and consider everything else a bonus.

3. Make it automatic. Focus on ways to make it easier to do the right thing. If you have chips and cookies in your home, throw that stuff away. (Better in the trash then on your butt.) Go buy some healthy food. When you come home tired from an awful day of work, you're likely to be "discipline depleted" and simply removing the bad option is going to help you so much in doing the right thing. Also, make sure that you stick with a focus for long enough to make it stick and make it a habit. For example, if you are trying to get into the habit of working out, then you need to spend three months of focusing on that before you add anything else to you, "I am changing this about me" list.

4. Write it down and review often. You're busy. You've got too many other things fighting for your attention and time to realistically expect that you will remember what disciplines you were trying to install in your life at the end of a chaotic week. Some people can't remember their own name at the end of a tough week. Write it down and put it somewhere where you will automatically look at it - like the fridge, the sun visor of your car, your screen saver, next to your bathroom mirror, etc.

5. Be accountable. Tell the positive people in your life what you are trying to get done, and ask them to call you out when they see you fall short of your commitments. Real friends love you enough to give you a kick in the butt when you need it.

If motivation shows up, that is a huge bonus, but you can't control that. You can however control your discipline and that is where all of your results will come from.

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